Rear-Facing Down Under

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The importance of keeping children under 12 in the back seat of the car

Posted on December 23, 2013 at 11:40 PM

The importance of keeping children under 12 in the back seat of the car.

 

The front seat of a car is designed for adults, not children. The seatbelts are designed to protect people over 145cm tall. The front airbags are designed to protect an average adult male of 75kg and 180cm tall. In order to protect the biggest males, an airbag is deployed at a speed of around 200km/hr. The smallest adult female dummy used to test front airbags is around 150cm tall. This is the height of an average 12 year old child. Small children sitting in the front seat are at risk of sustaining serious injuries in a motor vehicle crash when an airbag is deployed directly at their face and head. This increases the risk of injuries to their head and neck. Children are safest sitting in the back seat until they are at least 12 years old and over 145cm tall.


 Video: When can kids sit in the front seat?

 

Whilst the law allows children over the age of 7 to sit in the front seat, the injury risk to children under the age of 12 is nearly double in the front seat compared to the back seat. Children under 12 in the front seat are at greater risk of serious injury and death than adults due to front airbag deployment.


Kidsafe Guidelines: Keep Children Under 12 in the Back Seat


When sitting in the back seat, it is important that children are correctly restrained. Seatbelts are also designed for adults over 145cm tall. A small child using an adult seatbelt will slouch, causing the lap part of the belt to ride up onto their soft abdomen and the shoulder part of the belt to cut across their neck. The child will often place the shoulder belt under their arm or behind their back. The child is now at risk of sustaining serious, head, neck, spinal and internal injuries in the event of a collision. Children are safest using a child restraint or booster seat suited to their age and size until they can pass the Five Step Test to safely use an adult seatbelt alone. Do not move your child out of their booster seat until they can pass all five steps:


Five Step Test

 

1. Can the child sit up straight with their back flat against the vehicle seat?

2. Do the child’s knees bend at the edge of the vehicle seat?

3. Does the lap belt sit low on the hips and thighs?

4. Does the shoulder belt sit between the shoulder and neck?

5. Can the child sit up properly, wearing the seatbelt properly for the entire trip?


Crash Test: Adult belt is not enough

Crash Test: Lap only belt with child dummy

Crash Test: Booster seat lap only belt

Crash Test: Booster seat shoulder belt under arm

 

Recap of the Australian Road Rules:

 

It is the driver’s responsibility to ensure that all passengers and children are correctly restrained. Heavy fines apply for failing to correctly restrain children in motor vehicles. Remember, the road rules are the bare minimum legal requirement. For optimum safety, keep your child in each stage of restraint for as long as they still fit before progressing to the next stage.

 

Newborn to 6 months must use a rear-facing seat with in-built harness.

6 months to 4 years must use a rear-facing OR forward-facing seat with in-built harness.

4 years to 7 years must use a seat with an in-built harness OR a booster seat with adult seatbelt.

7 years to 16 years must use a child restraint/booster seat OR a properly fitted adult seatbelt.

Drivers and passengers over 16 years must wear a properly fitted adult seatbelt.

Children under 4 years must not sit in the front seat of a vehicle that has 2 or more rows of seats.

Children between 4 years and 7 years must not sit in the front seat of a vehicle that has 2 or more rows of seats UNLESS all the back seats are occupied by younger children.

 

**In the event that a child between the age of 4 to 7 years needs to use the front seat, they MUST use an untethered booster seat, with the front seat moved back away from the front airbags. If a passenger over the age of 7 years needs to use the front seat and they do not pass the Five Step Test to use the adult seatbelt alone, they MUST use an untethered booster seat.**


For MAXIMUM safety, go beyond the legal minimums.


Video: Australian Road Rules Child Restraints

Kidsafe Child Restraint Guidelines 

Video: Proper fit for regular seatbelt

Video: Seatbelts are designed for adults

Video: How a seatbelt can injure a child




Categories: Educational Info